N$50 million SADC summit budget explained

Government yesterday explained in full how N$50 million, reserved in the national budget to specifically host the 38th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in August, would be used.

The summit is scheduled for August 17 to 18 in Windhoek.

Briefing President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday, Minister of Industrialisation Trade and SME Development Tjekero Tweya, whose ministry is tasked to lead the preparations for the summit, said that a total estimated budget of N$50 million has been allocated to hosting the summit.

The budgeted amount will be used for accommodation, transport, security, protocol, branding and visibility, among other expenditures necessary for the successful hosting of the event.

As per SADC requirements the Namibian government (as a host) will bear the cost of these accommodations, Tweya said. He was however cautious that due to the nature of this event, coupled with a lengthy public procurement process, it may not be possible to procure goods and services in time.

Therefore, he said, an exemption to the rule is recommended and Treasury would be approached in this regard. Media reports last month suggested that the Central Procurement Board of Namibia, which started operating as the government's primary procurement agency in April 2017, has not issued a single contract since taking over from its forerunner, the Tender Board. CEOs of public enterprises, at their annual general meeting in Swakopmund last week, also poured out their frustration that the current procurement regime, a result of the new Public Procurement Act, is ineffective and has negatively affected services at these institutions.

Tweya told Geingob and some Cabinet ministers that organisers are in constant consultation with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that funds are availed to host the summit successfully.

Namibia last hosted the SADC summit in 2010, when Hifikepunye Pohamba was president. This year's summit will be held under the theme 'Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development'.

Hosting an event of this magnitude also places extra pressure on the capital Windhoek, which has limited accommodation facilities to cater for all dignitaries attending the summit, slated for the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre.

Tweya said that in total 15 rooms have been reserved at various luxury establishments for heads of state and government and 20 rooms for ministers who are heads of delegations and the SADC executive secretary. Office of the President is required to advise on hosting some of the heads of state and government at the State Guesthouse, said Tweya, adding that the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is required to advise on the final accommodation arrangements for visiting foreign heads of state and government.

Tweya said four presidential and 11 luxury rooms at the Country Club, Safari, Avani and Hilton hotels have been reserved for heads of state and government. Windhoek only has four presidential suites at each of the hotels mentioned.

About 11 vehicles per head of state and government are budgeted for as per the SADC minimum requirement by the host country. SADC requires three vehicles for the head of delegation, two for the SADC executive secretary, three for the SADC deputy executive secretaries and three minibuses plus two sedans for the SADC secretariat personnel.

For the provision of vehicles to heads of state and government and their delegations, more than 200 vehicles are needed and the government fleet cannot accommodate that number. Therefore, government needs to approach the private sector to ascertain the cost of hiring additional vehicles, Tweya said. Tweya said Namibia has paid her 2018/19 SADC membership contribution in the amount of N$27 million.

Payments for head office and HIV and AIDS programme contributions are also made, he said.

Regarding visas, Tweya said visas are only required for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Comoros and Madagascar nationals, saying arrangements for those delegates may be required for visas to be issued upon arrival at ports of entry.

Geingob emphasised the importance of security during the summit, saying it should be tightened to prevent criminals targeting delegates.

About 200 protocol officers and drivers will be provided with training in VIP driving and etiquette by end of June.

The summit will be preceded by the meetings of senior officials and council of ministers, which are scheduled to take place on August 9 to 14. Namibia is currently the deputy chair of SADC.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia